DULUTH, Minn. — Two days after she described the president as a white supremacist, the home of Duluth Mayor Emily Larson was targeted Friday by parading pro-Donald Trump supporters honking, shouting, playing loud music and clogging the street in her Chester Park neighborhood.
Julie Ahasay, 67, is a neighbor and shares a narrow road with the mayor.
"My biggest thing is it's the private residence of an elected official and this was clearly an attempt to do some mayor harassing," Ahasay, a local theater actor and director, said. "I think it's inappropriate."
The Duluth Police Department confirmed being called to the area at 6:53 p.m. "for a 'truck parade' with Trump flags," officer Tim Jazdzewski said in an email.
A squad car arrived 13 minutes later to find the vehicles had left. City officials declined to comment on the event.
Ahasay described vehicles flying Trump banners and revving engines across multiple blocks just before 7 p.m. The vehicles got jammed on the narrow street, making it impassable for up to 20 minutes. Some neighbors confronted the impromptu street rally, Ahasay said, describing one man from the vehicles saying the group had issues with the city's mayor.
"I could think of a whole lot of other ways to address this than by blocking off a whole city street," Ahasay said.
The scene comes at the end of a tense week politically in Duluth, with the arrival of President Donald Trump on Wednesday only to learn late the next day he and the first lady had contracted COVID-19. On Friday, St. Louis County Public Health urged his estimated 3,000 rally-goers to get tested.
Cases of the virus have escalated throughout September in the most expansive wave of the virus to hit the Northland.
Also during the rally Wednesday, a Twin Cities television photojournalist was attacked by a President Trump supporter who angrily knocked a cell phone from the camera operator's hand. Twice in the past two weeks, for visits by Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden and again for Trump, vehicles in political caravans have driven up and down Miller Trunk Highway.
Some of the rally-goers were apologetic, Ahasay said, while others came back for a second go after finally moving through the first time.
"It was extremely obnoxious," she said, "but I don't think it was quite as obnoxious as some of them meant it to be."
Larson spoke out against Trump's appearance in Duluth earlier this week. She referenced his refusal to condemn white supremacist groups and presaged the trouble with COVID-19 that has followed the president's visit.
“We have a white supremacist in the White House who cares only about himself, who says he is about law and order, but I can guarantee you is coming into my community, disregarding the laws of health and safety for Minnesotans," Larson said.
Under normal circumstances, Ahasay would have been opening a play called, "Roe," on Friday, about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade. But the pandemic has dealt a blow to local theater productions. The last six or seven months have been really tough on the theater community, she said.
The timing of the vehicle rally made everything more distressing for her. In the end, she received a call from the mayor.
"We've got Emily's back," she said. "I just don't think any of us really expected this."